Why I voted NO (translated by ThePressProject International)

Why I voted NO

In an article which was published on Saturday in EfSyn, the former Finance Minister, Y.Varoufakis attempts to explain the reasons why he voted ΄no΄ to the “prior actions” deal that the government brought to the parliament.

I decided to come into politics for one reason: to support Alexis Tsipras in his fight against debt serfdom. On his behalf, Alexis Tsipras honoured me in conscripting me for one reason: a particular understanding of the crisis based on the rejection of the Papakonstantinos dogma; namely, the view that given a choice between anarchic bankruptcy and toxic loans, the latter is always preferable.

It is a dogma I rejected as being a standing threat, which helped enforce policies that guarantee permanent bankruptcy and, eventually, lead to debt serfdom. On Wednesday night, I was asked in the parliament to chose between (a) espousing the aforementioned dogma by voting in favour of the document that our “partners” imposed on Alexis Tsipras in the Euro Summit by putschist means and unimaginable aggression, or (b) say “no” to my Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister asked us “Is the blackmail real or make-belief?” expressing the hideous dilemma that would burden all in everyone’s’ own consciousness – his too. Clearly, the blackmail was real. Its “reality” first hit me when on the 30th of January, J.Dissjenbloem visited me in my office to present me with the dilemma “memorandum or closed banks”. We knew from the beginning just how merciless the lenders would be. And yet we decided on what we kept repeating to each other during those long nights and days at the PM’s headquarters:
“We are going to do all it takes to bring home a financially viable agreement. We will compromise but not be compromised. We will step back just as much as is needed to secure an agreement-solution within the Eurozone. However, if we are defeated by the catastrophic policies of the memorandum we shall step down and pass on the power to those who believe in such means; let them enforce those measures while we return to the streets.”

The Prime Minister asked on Wednesday “Is there an alternative?” I estimate that, yes, there was. But I shall not dwell on that now. It is not the appropriate time. What is important is that on the night of the referendum the Prime Minister was determined that there was no alternative course of action.

And that is why I resigned, so that I would facilitate his going to Brussels and coming back with the best terms he could possibly deliver. But that does not mean that we would be automatically committed to enforcing those measures no matter what they were!

The Prime Minister, on Wednesday’s parliamentary meeting asked us to decide together, to share the responsibility. Fair enough. But how? One way would be to act, all together, as we had said time and again we would in case of defeat. We would declare we had been compromised, announce that in our hands we held a deal we considered non-viable and ask all those politicians that judged the agreement to be even potentially viable, regardless of their parties, to form a government and enforce the measures.

The other way would be to do as the Prime Minister suggested: protect the first left government, be it by enforcing an agreement – the product of blackmail – that the Prime Minister himself considers impossible.

Both aspects of the dilemma were equally merciless for all of us. As Alexis Tsipras rightly announced, no one has the right to pretend as if the dilemma is burdening their own conscience any more than any other’s – be it the Prime Minister or some other member of the government. Accordingly, this by no means implies that those who decided that the government should enforce the “impossible” agreement were led by a stronger sense of responsibility that those of us who reckoned that we should quit and leave the enforcement of the deal to those politicians that believe the deal to be enforceable.

Euclid Tsakalotos flawlessly captured the reality of it all while addressing the Parliament; he said that those who believe that the government of SYRIZA must not be charged with the task of enforcing this deal have arguments just as strong as those who believe that the government of SYRIZA owes it to the people to enforce this bad deal so that an anarchic bankruptcy be avoided.

None of us is more “anti-memorandum”, but neither is any of us more “responsible”. Simply enough, when you find yourself at so dreary a crossroad, under the pressure of the Unholy Coalition of International Power, it is acceptable that some comrades will chose one way and some the other. Under these circumstances, it would be criminal for one side to label the others “compromised” and for the other to label the former “irresponsible”.

At the current moment, in the midst of sensical disputes, the unity of SYRIZA and the people who believed in us, handing us that grant 61,5%, is the main goal. And the only way to ensure this is by recognizing each other’s arguments, bearing in mind as an axiom that the opposing side has intentions that are just as good, responsible and revolutionary.

That being said, the reason why I voted “NO” last Wednesday is simple: we should have handed the power, as we had said we would, to those who can look in the people’s eyes and say what we cannot utter: “The deal is tough but it can be enforced in such a way that will leave room for hope that we might recover and reverse the humanitarian catastrophe”.

The left government cannot promise Europe what it knows it cannot deliver. The ultimate asset that the government of SYRIZA needs protect is the promise we would repeatedly give throughout our visits to the European capitals: In contrast to the others, we shall not promise anything (e.g. a certain primary surplus) that cannot be accomplished. On the other hand, the left government has no right to pillage any longer the victims of a five year long crisis without, at the very least, being able to answer in the affirmative the question: “Have you at least compensated for the recessionary measures?”

Many of my colleagues ask: “Is it not better for us to be in charge? We that care for the people and have good intentions targeting corruption and oligarchy?” Yes, it is better. But what tools have we left to work with? The decision of the Euro Summit establishes and furthers the complete lack of social control over the banks while society will be burdened with a further 10-25 bn of debt to support them.

And to make matters worse, we have the creation of an uber-HRADF (Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund) that is going to take once and for all complete control of all public assets, depriving the Hellenic Republic of all managerial benefits. And exactly how is it that we shall control austerity when the troika, with a plain liner from the ELSTAT (Hellenic Statistical Authority) –we gave over the control of this on Wednesday– is going to single-handedly determine the primary surplus?

And when the harsh reality of the results of this newly found austerity dawns upon society, when young and old alike either take to the streets or stay at home and rot in despair in the face of such measures, those people – the people we have been speaking for all along – who in the political scene is going to represent them then? Can it be that same party that brought these very measures before the Parliament? Measures which the well-meaning ministers are forced to defend to the parliament and media while being ridiculed by the anti-memorandum opposition?

“But are you not just serving Schauble’s plan when you vote against the deal?” I am asked. And I reply with a question of my own: “Are you sure that the agreement to these measures is not part of Schauble’s plan?”

Note the following:

► The latest IMF report that calculates dept over 200% of GDP, essentially forbidding the IMF to give out new loans;
► ESM’s demand, as per Schauble’s command, that there will be new loans from the IMF to Greece;
► A Greek government passing reformations which not only does it not trust but openly considers the result of blackmail;
► A German government that passes through Bundestag an agreement for Greece that it already, from the start, characterises as untrustworthy and failed.
Do you, dear reader, not concur that the above facts are powerful allies of Schauble’s? Is there really any safest means for the country to be shut out from the Eurozone that this non-viable deal that grants the German Finance Minister time and reasons to plan the Grexit he much desires?

‘Nough said. My judgment led me to vote against the current agreement, believing, as I still do, that the Papakonstantinos dogma is to be rejected. On the other hand, I respect fully those colleagues of mine who held differently. Neither am I the more revolutionary/ethical one nor are they the more responsible ones. Today what we are judged for is our ability to protect with all our powers our unity, comradeship and collectivity while retaining our right to differ.

To conclude, let me note a philosophical hew of the dilemma that burdens the conscience of everyone of us; is there a time when we may allow the idea that certain things should not be done in our name, transcend utilitarianism? Is this, such a time?

There are no right answers. Just an honest intention to respect the answers our comrades are giving, even if they disagree with ours.

Please note that Thepressproject is still trying to offer high quality investigative journalism under very difficult circumstances. Paypal will not accept money transferred from within Greece. Now, more than ever, we need our international readers to support us Read why


    • I am afraid that none of the counter-arguments given are either concrete or factual. They are simply rhetorical. Take a second hard and honest look and ask yourself if they really address the issues, or do rather cheat them.

  • This is the key question: Many of my colleagues ask: “Is it not better for us to be in charge? We that care for the people and have good intentions targeting corruption and oligarchy?”

    As they say with good reason: the road to Hell is paved of good intentions.

    My opinion is that it’d be indeed much better that a Real Left party would be in power but since the very moment that Syriza signs and applies the Troika impositions, it stops being a Real Left party and becomes a Mock Left party just as PASOK in its worst days.

    The real battle is for the soul of Syriza, and Syriza is losing it.

    If Syriza is in power and wants to be “better” and do “better”: Syriza has to fight. Surrendering is not an option.

    • I do not know what the answer is. I only know, based on my experience with power structures, that the following strategy is unfortunately very successful in breaking up friends/allies. Meanwhile the opposite the side, the original power structure, will usually maintain maximum power without doing much of anything.
      “In politics and sociology, divide and rule (or divide and conquer) is gaining and maintaining power by breaking up larger concentrations of power into pieces that individually have less power than the one implementing the strategy. The concept refers to a strategy that breaks up existing power structures and prevents smaller power groups from linking up.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divide_and_rule

    • There’s a funny side to it indeed. On the other hand it may get tragic too, especially if they try to do it oh-so-safe that Athenians can’t walk in their own city like in the days of the big riots, not so long ago, with subway stations closed, police everywhere, etc. Let’s not forget that by “security” they mean repression.

      Wonder why don’t they talk in one of those stolen uninhabited islands or just keep talking in Brussels…

  • If the peopIe’s party puts on the cIothes of the emperor, then who is there Ieft to vote for?

    • Have you even read the article, Plassaras? He’s not talking of the referendum but of the memorandum approved AFTER it by Syriza and the “opposition”.

    • Voting Yes in this referendum would have been a mark of idiocy.

      As Maju said, YV is talking about the memorandum. But what you said above , from what we’ve learned these past few weeks (i.e., the Greek negotiating team’s political naiveté, etc.,) … one could conclude that a YES vote in the referendum (“a sham” as “Susan Webber” herself stated in a detailed article on her site) would have been a mark of intelligence.

      An American reporter (don’t recall his station affiliation; watched it on youtube) covering the referendum campaign interviewed some 30-something Greek male in Athens and asked him how he’s voting. The Greek replied YES. When asked why, he replied “I trust the foreigners more than I trust Greek politicians!” Again, knowing what we know now — the sham that was the referendum, the Greek government’s unpreparedness, it’s political naiveté, the eventual acceptance of a worse deal than was originally offered — that was one intelligent, prescient Greek.

    • Apologies. The second paragraph (“As Maju said…”) should not be in italics. Also “its political naiveté,” not “it’s …” No edit feature 🙁

    • Maju:

      The prior actions voting is irrelevant. Everything flows from the referendum vote.

      Couldn’t care less on how someone is voting on “prior actions”.

    • I have no idea what you mean by “prior actions”, Plassaras, but what matters here is not so much the referendum but its betrayal in Parliament.

    • Nobody has betrayed anything in Parliament.

      The parties that voted Yes in the referendum are trapped and can’t vote anything but yes in matters of “prior actions” (or 3rd memorandum pre-conditions) and half of Syriza is voting yes also in such prior actions matters.

      All of these are orchestrated moves and carry zero weight worth discussing.

    • Voting “yes” to the memorandum is betraying the will of the Greek People, expressed in the referendum, which rejected a much softer version of the same memorandum. Voting “yes” to the memorandum is, it seems, betraying the will of Syriza, the majority of whose Central Committee asked MPs to vote “no”.

      Of course it’s coherent if you belong to the pro-Troika coalition but I’m only interested on what Syriza does, not those pathetic bootlickers. My concern is that Tsipras and the MPs that support him are destroying Syriza (and Greece).

      I do not understand what “prior actions” means in this context anyhow.

    • “Prior Actions” is what the EU caIIs prerequisites. What has been enacted in parliament in these Iast 2 sessions are Prior Actions / prerequisites in order that Greece can demonstrate its good faith to earn the right to negotiate the finaI MOU 3. [ie Iike paying a down-payment to be tortured.]

      These prior actions aIIow the EU to pass more biIIions through the BoG to pay themselves – principally the IMF and ECB [the Iatter a joke] – whiIe pIacing more debt on Greek taxpayers shoulders.

      Once these jokers are paid [onIy IMF matters, since they MIGHT heIp] negotiations can start.

    • Ah, alright. Something like: if you crawl on the dirt and then lick my boots I may consider what you have to say…

      Thanks for the explanation, Elenits.

  • Tsipras replies to this and other dissident voices: http://greece.greekreporter.com/2015/07/21/tsipras-to-syriza-dissidents-propose-alternatives-and-dont-hide-behind-my-signature/

    Not any mention of convening Syriz central committee or calling a congress, much less of calling another referendum. He’s acting as if he owns the party and the trust deposited by voters in it.

    And he’s obviously also lost any semblance to struggle. Mr. Tsipras: you have been PASOKized! Nobody is hiding behind you, you are hiding behind Syriza and Greece.